INTERNATIONAL SUPPLEMENT TO BLN 1231 18 APRIL 2015
BRANCH LINE NEWS
This newsletter covers the World outside the British Isles from information
supplied by members.
Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the Compilers or of the Society.
INTERNATIONAL NEWS TEAM:-
International Editor (to whom all email and postal contributions should be sent):
Paul Griffin, 7 School Bell Mews, Church Lane, Stoneleigh, COVENTRY, CV8 3ZZ
Email: [email protected]
Deputy International Editor: Derek Woodward, 68 Church Street, Matlock, DERBY, DE4 3BY
Base station of the Monserrate funicular railway in Bogotá, the capital of Colombia. See item 
 Bulgaria/Greece - The railtour of three alphabets (part 6)
17 September. Back by bus from Haskovo to Svilengrad, noting that Haskovo is a large town with its own,
active, trolleybus network with two axle single deckers in service. At Svilengrad the two coaches were
parked in a roadside siding with only a low wall to step over this time. Presently OSE (Greek Railways) Co-
Co DE No. A467 appeared from over the border, hauled the coaches out of the siding and propelled them
through the station works to a point where a run-round loop enabled the loco to run round to the front of
the train. The tour then set off, over the border into Greece, through the small derelict looking closed
station of Ormenion. On arrival at Dikea, now the terminus of the thrice daily passenger service worked by
DMU sets from Alexandroupolis Port, customs and passport examinations took place. Is Greece not in the
Schengen area? (Greece is indeed in the Schengen area, but Bulgaria is not as yet. Ed.). A class 520 DMU,
badly graffitied, waited to work the next passenger service to Alexandroupolis. The trackbed of the former
line to Edirne (Adrianopolis) in Turkey, replaced by the present alignment wholly within Greece in 1975,
was noted – now a forest track. The tour continued via Pythion to Alexandroupolis Limenas (Port), arriving
in mid-afternoon. Before the Balkan war of 1912-13, all of this area was in the Ottoman Empire, and
Alexandroupolis was known as Dedeagh (spelt as per the August 1914 issue of Bradshaw’s Continental
Guide and Timetable), or Dedeh-Agach (spelling used in Marmsworth’s Encyclopedia, 8Vols, 1910 edition),
or Dedeh-Agatch (elsewhere); no doubt the variations arose from the interesting challenges presented by
transcribing names from the version of Persian script as officially used by the Ottoman Empire. There are
two stations in Alexandroupolis; Limenas (Port) which is effectively the main station, close to the city
centre, albeit at the end of a short branch from the ‘town’ station, suffixed Dialogi – a large rambling
timber structure. In the vee of the through line and the branch is the locomotive depot and carriage shed.
18 September. Today the tour continued westwards, propelling out of Alexandroupolis Limenas (Port) and
reversing at Alexandroupolis Dialogi (Town). It was also noted that Alexandroupolis Port was still able to
handle wagonload freight. A single covered bogie wagon at a siding wharf was opened up to discharge its
load of sawn timber. In many places this line is being heavily rebuilt with major realignments. For example,
between Stavroupolis and Neochorion there are three stretches of new alignment and further
realignments west of Drama e.g. near km 137-140. There was a photostop at Drama where class Ky 0-10-0
No. 887 (Franco-Belge, 1929) was plinthed and, alas, graffitied. Back in the 1990s, plans evolved to run
steam hauled tourist trains between Drama and Xanthi where there is a spectacular river gorge, but apart
from a few charters nothing materialised. Then, inside the station booking hall, a poster was spotted,
advertising these on a weekend in 2008. It is understood that two of OSE’s two ex-British WD 2-10-0s were
overhauled to work these trains. Since returning, our member has been told that the two locos and stock
are locked inside a shed on the opposite side of the station from the platform and wishes to know if this is
correct. (Both locos were at Drama in 2014. Ed.) The rebuilding of the line is all the more surprising given
that the Alexandrouplis to Strymon section only sees two passenger trains each way per day, and freights
only occasionally. The only Greek freight seen was a military train, and given ongoing tensions between
Greece and Turkey it is tempting to speculate that this is the real reason for the line improvements. On
arrival at Strymon, junction for the line to Thessaloniki, there was a loco change, rather surprising as the
Bulgarian border station of Kulata was only some 15 miles away. And so an OSE class 220 Bo-Bo DE did the
honours for that section. At Kulata it was buses to the hotel in Sandinski, the journey being via the level
crossing at the terminus of the electrified branch line to Petrich. A BDZ class 61 Bo-Bo E shunter was noted
in the platform heading two coaches for the junction station of General Todorov.
 Bulgaria – Answer to query in BLNI1229.103
Our correspondent from the railtour of three alphabets posed the question as to whether there was any
information on the Burgas to Pomorie freight line and the associated salt railway on Lake Atanaovsko. A
member has now written in with the required information, which reads ( with correction of some of the
worst grammatical excesses) as follows:-
The former existing 600mm industrial gauge lines of the privately owned salt works “Glarus” and the coal
mine “Tsherno More”( “Black Sea”) as well as the state owned 600mm narrow gauge tracks serving the salt
works in Pomorie were the backbone of the 600mm narrow gauge line linking Burgas with Pomorie, with
12 km built. At the end of 1923 preparations began, and in December 1925 the line was opened for
regular service. In the first year of service it proved insufficient to carry all the traffic of coal, salt and
wine. In 1927 a project was developed and in 1929 work began on a standard gauge line, but due to
financial problems construction was stopped from 1930 for almost 9 years. In March 1938 the construction
works started again and the standard gauge line Burgas – Pomorie was ceremonially opened on 25 June
1939. In 1971/72 the passenger traffic was cancelled. As a narrow gauge line it was timetable #605, in
1939 ( as standard gauge) it was #46, and when it closed in 1972 it was timetable #85.
The more than 3.5km long 600mm narrow gauge line connected the northern and southern parts of the
salt works with the reloading station on the standard gauge line. At certain locations the narrow gauge
ran parallel with the standard gauge. The industrial narrow gauge line belongs to the “Tshernomorsky
solnitzy” salt works, Burgas and not to BDŽ. When visited in 1999 all traffic was hauled by Romanian made
“UNIO” diesels which are two axle and chain driven.
 Czech Republic – 30th anniversary of demolition of Prague’s Těšnov station
16 March 2015 marked the 30th anniversary of the demolition of Prague’s Těšnov train station, a once
magnificent 1870s structure inspired by Roman triumphal arches and close to the Florenc district ( a few
hundred metres north of Praha Masarykovo station). For forty years it was the North Western Station, but
after independence it was renamed Denisovo, and finally Těšnov. The last train departed from Těšnov to
Lysá nad Labem in July 1972 and two years later the northern wing of the station was demolished to make
way for a motorway cutting right through the capital. What remained of the building was given protected
status, but the unused station
was quickly allowed to fall into
disrepair and finally the
authorities decided without
warning – and ignoring its
protected status – to strip all
statues and valuables out, then
demolish it. All this was done
in great haste. A panel
exhibition on the site’s history
has recently been placed in
front of the City of Prague
Museum close to the site
where the Těšnov railway
station stood for over a
Těšnov station shortly after its completion (drawing by Francis Chalets)
 France - Good news on French freight lines for a change
At Les Aubrais, just north of Orléans a branch diverges north east to Pithiviers and Engenville. It closed to
passenger services in 1942, but has remained open for freight from the numerous grain silos in the area.
Over the last winter the line has been closed for repairs to allow 40 km/h running and reopening is
expected in April 2015. And in the second quarter of this year, 30km of the freight line in the Nièvre
between Nevers and Arzembuouy will be repaired to allow the traffic of cereals to be continued for at least
a further five years. The budget is 3.5 million euros and the owner of the silo at Arzembuouy (Soufflet) will
 France - Ligne de Cerdagne to close 1 January 2016?
BLNI 1180.099 reported the financial problems of this 63km line from Villefranche-de-Conflent to Latour-
de-Carol through the foothills of the Pyrenees. It is famed as the line of le Petit Train Jaune – the little
yellow train. The name comes from the yellow and red colours of the EMUs, derived from the Catalan flag.
€125 M is needed to renovate the railway and buy new rolling stock, but usage has dropped from 400,000
passengers in 2000 to only 180,000 in 2014. Tourist numbers have declined despite the lines spectacular
scenery. A petition has been launched against the threated closure on 1 January 2016.
 Germany – Docks lines at Wilhelmshaven available in 2015?
ASM (Arbeitsgemeinschaft Schienenverkehr Münsterland) and DGEG (Deutsche Gesellschaft für
Eisenbahngeschichte) both ran tours of the docks lines in Wilhelmshaven during 2014. However, special
trains operated by Wilhelmshaven Touristik also ran on 8 dates that year to two of the docks branches,
with two return trips each day. Cost per trip €8. They ran from Sande to Bohnenburg (INEOS Vinyls and
line 1553 on the S&W map) and the southern docks branch (line 1550) which ends a short distance from
the Bahnhof and actually serves a recycling plant. Enquiry revealed that they should be running on similar
dates in 2015, but information has yet to appear on their website: www.wilhelmshaven-touristik.de
 Germany – New link south of Gera to be built
The sketch included in this BLN shows changes south of Gera which are planned to take place between
Spring 2015 and Autumn 2016.There is a bridge between Gera Debschwitz and Wünschendorf on KBS 541
which requires expensive repairs. Rather than carry out the repairs, the agreed solution is to provide a new
link line between KBS 555 (Gera to Weida) and KBS 541, and then close KBS 541 from north of the link to
Gera Debschwitz. This will result in Gera Ost and Gera Liebschwitz losing their services. The link will be at
Gera Roppisch. The agreed works include not only the new link line, but also doubling between Debschwitz
and Zwötzen, and the provision of additional block signals between Zwötzen and Weida to reduce
headway to 3.5 minutes. It is intended to install a new turnback platform at Zwötzen and extend some
local services which currently terminate at Gera Hbf at Zwötzen instead.
 Germany - Niedersachsen to re-open three lines to passenger trains
25 lines were investigated for potential re-opening, and 8 selected in 2014 for further appraisal. Of these 3
have been approved for re-opening in the next few years, subject to Federal funding. They are:
Bad Bentheim to Neuenhaus (28km) , on the line to Coevorden in the Netherlands owned by Bentheimer
Einbeck-Salzderhelden to Einbeck-Mitte. This 4.4 km section of the 9.9km branch to Juliusmühle is south
west of Kreiensen. The line is owned by Ilmebahn GmbH.
A 2 to 3km extension of the existing DB Netze line from Salzgitter-Lebenstedt to a new Salzgitter-
Fredenberg station on the abandoned line to Derneburg.
The lines from Harvesse to Braunschweig and Stadthagen to Rinteln will be kept under review. Lines which
will NOT reopen due to unfavourable economics are Lüneburg to Soltau and Aurich to Emden.
 Germany – Baumholder branch visited
A recent German reopening that appears to have gone noticed is the 9km branch from Heimbach (Nahe) -
on the Mainz to Saarbrücken line - to Baumholder in Rheinland-Pfalz. Passenger services had previously
ceased on 31st May 1981 since when it was retained for freight, mostly military transport. However a
special passenger service did run during the period 29th June to 1st July 2007 in conjunction with
Rheinland-Pfalz-Tag 2007. Although services should have started with the new timetable on 14 December
2014, a statement from the operator VLEXX (a subsidiary of Regentalbahn AG) on 16 December reported
that due to lack of sufficient crew the service was bustituted. This operator had also taken over operation
of the Frankfurt - Mainz - Saarbrücken service on the same day and were presumably concentrating their
limited resources on the latter service. It is unclear whether any trains had operated on the branch in the
intervening two days. However, regular train services did finally start operating with effect from 23
February 2015 and a visit was made exactly a week later. The branch has two intermediate halts at
Heimbach Ort and Ruschberg. Because the former is conveniently situated for Heimbach, very few trains
actually stop at the junction station of Heimbach (Nahe) with all trains continuing to/from Idar-Oberstein.
Baumholder still retains a number of sidings for military traffic although no wagons were present and the
light rust on the rails suggested such traffic is occasional. The station building still stands but is fenced off
from the platform, access to which is by an unsigned path further down the street towards the town. The
signal box looked still to be operational. Interestingly, the branch infrastructure is owned by RP Eisenbahn
who also look after the nearby Alzey - Kirchheimbolanden line and two lines in Sachsen. Our member was
the only passenger on the outward mid-morning train once the train left the main line but was joined on
the return by two people travelling together who probably wished they had taken the bus as frequent
automatic brake applications on leaving Baumholder resulted in a one hour late arrival back at Idar-
 Germany - Augsburg and Ulm tram tours
It is becoming a tradition in the German Society IBSE for tours of one sort or another to be arranged by
those celebrating notable birthdays, and three long standing members continued the theme by organising
tram tours of the Augsburg and Ulm networks. So on Saturday 28 February the group assembled outside
the one depot servicing all eight of Augsburgs’ metre gauge routes for a scrupulously timetabled seven
hour tour on a preserved 1976 built MAN GT8. Even then by design it omitted one complete branch and
two route ends (covered afterwards in just over three hours) but the tour included five irregularly used
turning loops, two with triangles at the in and out points, a circuit of the huge current depot, as well as
inside a closed depot which could only be accessed by reversing in (and is too small for the current fleet of
Combinos!) plus three rare branches with various levels of irregular services.
The first rare branch used to be a regular route but is now kept operative only to turn trams short and
consists of a double track junction and a circuit of approx 1km around side streets to a stop called
Oberhausen, the second is around 0.5km long plus large turning circle serving only the Messe Exhibition
Halls and the third approx 0.75km plus large loop to the football stadium. The use of the first branch is
indeterminate, the second sees booked services once a year for the duration of the Augsburg AGA
Exhibition in April (from 11-19th in 2015) and the third used roughly fortnightly with Augsburg FC currently
in the top Bundesliga Division. In 2015 their pending use actually coincides, so anyone tempted to do both
on scheduled services may want to put Saturday 18 April in their gricing diary when Augsburg FC are
currently shown as being at home to Stuttgart!
The Ulm network is again metre gauge but with just one east/west route of just over 10km at present. A
north/south route connecting the University with schools and the Hospital is about to commence
construction. Nevertheless gricing the present network on Sunday 1 March still took three hours in a
preserved 1964 Esslingen GT4 single car, reaching both normal extremities, two turning circles, plus both
sides of the triangle access to the short branch leading to the depot, a circuit around the depot plus a
triangle within the depot area allowing running direct to the workshops off route or a transfer within the
complex to the storage sidings.
Some of the Ulm tram fleet share a corner of the bus depot
A day either side of these tours was spent covering seven DB and privately operated branches, (one being
the reopened Weissenhorn branch from Ulm, so thanks to the author of a recent item in BLNI as this
writer was unaware it had reopened! Expecting it to be cold (it was, with snow lying on hills), a warm
weather trip was tacked on immediately afterwards with a flight from Baden-Baden to Porto in Portugal.
Of which more in the next BLNI.
 Italy - The Milano Metro and Milano interurban tramways
There are currently 4 metro lines in Milan operated by Azienda Trasporti Milanesi (ATM):
Line 1 (red) opened in 1964 with third rail electrification, all underground. It has recently been upgraded
with new moving block signalling and ATO to allow a more frequent service. The trains are a mixture of
types, the oldest dating from the original opening of the line (some rebuilt with new traction equipment),
the Meneghino trains introduced in 2008, and Leonardo trains introduced from 2014 to allow the capacity
of the new signalling system to be exploited in time for the Expo 2015 world fair being held in Milan later
this year. As part of the new signalling, platform screen doors were installed on the departure platforms at
the 1o Maggio terminus – this is intended to allow the trains to operate into and out of the turnback
sidings without a driver, but this capability is not yet in use due to opposition from the driver’s trade union.
Line 2 (green) opened in 1969 has overhead electrification and significant lengths of surface running
outside the city centre. The eastern end of the route was first opened as an interurban tramway and was
upgraded to metro a few years later. There is a similar mix of trains to line 1, but they are not
interoperable due to the different electrification systems. This line has retained its original signalling
system with manual driving.
Line 3 (yellow) opened in 1990. It is entirely underground but with overhead electrification. It has a
uniform fleet of trains supplied for the line’s opening and operated with ATO from the start.
Line 5 (purple) opened in 2013. This is a fully automated driverless metro with platform screen doors at all
stations. The trains do not have a driving cab and passengers get an excellent view of the tunnels.
Electrification is third rail. The technology is the same as the Copenhagen metro, and ATM is a member of
the consortium operating the line in Denmark. An extension to this line is due to open in time for Expo
2015. Construction has just started on the missing line 4, which will link Linate Airport to the city centre,
using the same technology as line 5.
There was once an extensive network of interurban electric and steam tramways around Milan and further
afield in Lombardy, but now only one line survives. This is ATM line 179 which runs from Comasina, the
northern terminus of line 3 of the Metro, about 12 km north to Limbiate.
Limbiate tram terminus
This is a single track route with crossing places, mainly on reserved track at the side of public roads. The
rolling stock is rather elderly and run down high floor bogie cars. The trams are single ended and there are
no turning loops at the termini, so they operate as coupled sets of 2 or 3, with a two man crew. At peak
times there are about 3 trams an hour, but fewer off peak and at weekends; there is no Sunday service.
The depot for the line is at Varedo, which is only a ten minute walk from Varedo station on the FNM
suburban line to Seveso, so it is possible to make a round trip out by metro and tram and back by train.
The last of the steam tram routes to operate was from Monza on the outskirts of Milan to Trezzo sull’Adda
and Bergamo. This was opened in 1890 and closed between Bergamo and Trezzo in 1953 and completely in
1958. In later years some services were operated by battery electric trams (actually from 1932 – Ed.). The
site of the Trezzo tram station in Piazzale 1o Maggio is now the bus station, and former tram sheds survive,
in use as a second hand bookshop, with a splendid photograph above the doorway showing the location
when the tramway was still in operation.
A branch of this line served Crespi d’Adda, a factory village with remarkably high quality workers housing,
constructed between 1878 and 1930, and now a World Heritage Site, but no trace of the tramway remains.
Trezzo tram station – photograph on the former tramshed building
 Netherlands – More on the new railway tunnel at Delft
On 28 of February 2015 the new tunnel in Delft came into service, replacing the Delft viaduct as reported
in BLNI 1229.114. Two new tracks and one island platform were built between km67.4 and km70.4, slightly
north of the existing location. The new station building, also just north of the existing station of 1885, also
came into service. The old viaduct ( entered service 13 September 1964), the old platforms and the goods
shed will be demolished, after which the second tunnel and a second platform are to be built. From 2017
the line from Den Haag HS to Delft Zuid will be four track and from Delft Zuid to Schiedam Centrum four
tracking is planned for 2022. The old Delft station is to be restored and the station surroundings
redeveloped with a new bus station, parking facilities and several parks on the former trackbed. The first
problem encountered after the opening was the turbulence caused by the non-stop intercity trains
affecting the station doors. A temporary speed restriction of 80 kmph was applied, and was noticed by a
member passing through the new tunnel in mid-March. He also observed that both ends of the old viaduct
line had been removed and the formation partly destroyed.
 Netherlands – More on the planned Rotterdam Centraal - Hoek van Holland Metro
The line to The Hook will be a metro line but in 'Rotterdam-style' with overhead wires similar to Line E to
Den Haag, the former Hofpleinlijn. This still uses the old NS poles and wires as much as possible and only
when going underground at Kleiweg does it turn to third rail operation. So by using an overhead supply this
should get around the sand and salt problem as they tend not to go well with third rail operation. Also, by
using the current infrastructure, the conversion time from heavy rail to light rail is reduced. On the
'Hoekselijn' the transition will be just west of Schiedam where the current turn back sidings will connect on
to the current Hoek tracks ( see plan below).
There will be a single line connection from the ProRail network to the Metro Network to enable freight to
move between the two. Vopak (oil related products in tanks, near Vlaardingen Oost) and Conline (steel
pipes, Maassluis) generate enough traffic to justify special measures to combine operations. The southern
metro track will be available for freight trains between Schiedam and Maassluis, with the ability to hold a
train on the connecting line between Prorail and the Metro for pathing purposes. As the metro sets are not
as wide as the current trains, there will be bypass loops to divert the freight trains around the platforms at
Schiedam Nieuwland, Vlaardingen Oost and Vlaardingen West. At the freight yard of Vlaardingen Centrum
there will remain two separate tracks for shunting and waiting for paths back to Schiedam Centrum.
Current track layout between Schiedam and Hoek van Holland Strand. From http://www.sporenplan.nl
The idea is that daytime, when traffic is not at its peak, there will be a few hours when metros between
Schiedam and Vlaardingen Centrum and between Vlaardingen Centrum and Maassluis can run single line
on the northern track leaving space for freight trains on the southern track. It is hoped that this works
satisfactorily as it looks less complicated than moving all freight during the night when the Metro does not
 Norway - Notodden to Porsgrunn reprieved
Finance has been found for this branch line service, at least until 13 June. There are eight train pairs.
Nothing has been announced for after 13 June, so closure is still a concern.
 Poland - A nocturnal grice east of Katowice
Your correspondent was waiting on the platform at Wrocław Główny when the 20:04 from Szklarska
Poreba Górna arrived at 23:20. This overnight train to Lublin via Warszawa was undergoing a period of
diversion due to night engineering works between Katowice and Łazy on the direct route to Warszawa, and
this rather tasty and lengthy diversion was only available on this train and the westbound service, which
meant that travelling the diversion started at about three in the morning! Our member was in possession
of an InterRail ticket, so if necessary he could simply have a seat for the night, but by turning up and
approaching the sleeping car attendant directly he hoped to get a three berth sleeper to himself, which
would allow viewing of the diversion without inconveniencing others as well as getting some welcome
sleep! A sleeper was indeed available and there were no other occupants, so everything was set for the
nocturnal grice. First some sleep with the alarm set for 03:00 when the train was booked to call at
Sosnowiec Południowy in lieu of the normal main line call at Sosnowiec Główny. Gricing in the dark is not
to everybody’s taste – some people even refuse to count track done after dusk – but nowadays one of the
main reasons for avoiding nocturnal gricing has been removed. With modern GPS and mapping systems it
is possible to follow your route with an extremely high level of accuracy. A Samsung mobile phone loaded
with the Polish maps available for free as part of ME Maps ( another free download which shows railways
in good detail) was utilised for this purpose and allowed landmarks and roads viewed from the train to be
related to the location shown on the map. Following the little blue arrow that shows the location of the
phone as it moves along the track shown on the map can be quite hypnotic.
Sosnowiec Południowy has a large, virtually unused, station building in line with its normal role as a station
on a minor cross country route from Katowice to Kozłów. No-one was waiting for the train as it pulled in.
Initially the passenger line to Kozłów ( line 105, also timetable 105) is followed, passing through the well lit
yard at Sosnowiec Dańdówka at low speed and allowing confirmation that the use of track three as
indicated by the GPS was indeed correct. Big factories to the north were clearly visible as the slow running
continued to the junction with line 171. Trains to Kozlow normally go north here to Dąbrowa Górnicza
Strzemieszyce, but the diversionary route took us onto freight only line. As the train diverged the station at
Sosnowiec Porąbka could clearly be seen on the line 105 route. Much less ambient light was present now
as the line entered an area of parkland in which a lake gleamed ( called Balaton, though not the one that
one associates with the name in Hungary). The little blue arrow on the map showed the train was coming
up to a junction and soon crossed a flyover to curve north and run parallel with the Jaworzno Szczakowa to
Łazy passenger line for several km. The red lights of signals shone brightly at podg Dorota ( podg is the
Polish abbreviation for junction) as the train passed, going faster now and after several km diverging east
to run parallel with line 105, the platforms at Dabrowa Goricza Wschodnia being clearly visible as they
were bypassed on the goods lines. Far fewer roads and street lights now as the line entered a more
sparsely populated area, dominated by the distant lights of the yard at Katowice steelworks. Soon the
goods lines rose up to cross line 105 on very rare freight line and head north towards Łazy. The triangular
junction giving access to the yard of Katowice steelworks was passed and the train was now running at a
good speed north through empty countryside with occasional roads towards Łazy. This was quite a long
section, and the temptation to retire to the bed was counterbalanced by the desire to make sure of the
route around Łazy. At podg. Przemiarki a signal box was passed, and the train went right to take the
expected easterly goods lines and join the main line south of Łazy station. With the grice successfully
completed it was time to get some sleep on the (slow) run to Warszawa, where arrival was expected at
REST OF THE WORLD
 Canada – Algoma Central Railway sold and passenger service to continue
BLNI 1215.303 reported a visit to the Algoma Central Railway (ACR) before the proposed end of passenger
services. Since then a one year extension of funding kept the trains running, but now there are new
developments. Railmark Canada Ltd. has been chosen to acquire assets and operate the Algoma Central
Railway passenger service between Hearst and Sault Ste. Marie in addition to the Agawa Canyon Train
Tour. The company will take over operation from CN. As part of its bid to operate the ACR passenger rail
line, Railmark outlined its plans to increase ridership by expanding the number of offerings while ramping
up services and marketing efforts. Specifically, the company intends to add dining tours and other
entertainment-based voyages. By presenting a greater variety of excursions and providing a higher-value
purchase for passengers, its business plan sees the remote rail service becoming self-sustaining within five
years. In January 2014, Transport Canada announced its intention to cut its annual investment into the ACR
passenger service. A Working Group was then formed to come up with solutions to keep the regional
transportation line in operation. The federal government later issued a one-year funding extension, which
was set to expire on 31 March 2015, triggering a rush by some BLS members to travel the line ( see BLNI
1215.303). Based on an economic impact assessment from BDO Canada, the ACR passenger service
currently generates between $38 and $48 million in annual economic activity, supports more than 200
jobs, and generates more than $5 million in tax revenue each year. With Railmark’s expansion plans for the
ACR, these numbers are expected to increase considerably. In recent years, the Government of Canada has
been investing $2.2 million annually into the remote ACR passenger line. Under Railmark’s proposal, the
amount needed from Transport Canada is $7 million over five years, considerably less than previous
investments from the ministry. And after the five-year period, Railmark’s business plan calls for an end to
public funding as the service becomes self-sustainable.
And on 1 April it was announced that the Government of Canada will provide $5.3 million over three years
for the continued operation of the passenger rail service between Sault Ste. Marie and Hearst, Ontario.
This would allow Railmark to demonstrate its ability to deliver on its business plan. A review will be carried
out at the three-year mark to determine if additional funding is warranted.
 Colombia – the Monserrate Funicular
Most of Bogotá is in a wide valley at 2600 metres A.S.L. but the eastern Cordillera of the Andes rises
steeply to the east, and on the prominent peak of Monserrate at 3152 metres is a church with a shrine
devoted to "El Señor Caído" (the Fallen Lord). This is a popular viewpoint and also a centre for pilgrimage
and is connected to the city by a ‘teleferique’ and also a funicular railway, both starting from the same
building at the base of the mountain. The construction of the funicular was between 1926 and 1928, with
the official opening on 18 August 1929. Its length is 820 metres and it rises from 2692 to 3152 metres
above sea level ( 460 metres) with an average gradient of 70%. The Abt system is used, and the line is
single track, with a 100 metre section of double track in the middle. There are two bridges, one of 3.8
metres, the other 50 metres. Just before the summit there is also a 252 metre long tunnel. The original
cars had four compartments and could take forty seated and twenty standing passengers. In 1962 the
funicular was modernized extensively with new, Swiss–built longer cars capable of taking 82 passengers.
The bodies were replaced by a more modern design in December 2003, but one of the un-modified cars
has been preserved and is seen to the left of the base station as trains depart. When built the funicular
ran through a barren landscape, but subsequent tree growth has hidden the rails from view from most
angles. A visit by a member in February 2015 found the funicular busy even on weekdays, with queues at
the ticket office. While many make the ascent for religious reasons, the view from the summit over Bogotá
is equally popular. The journey time is about five minutes. More information and many historical pictures
A great view of central Bogotá from the ascending funicular car
at the double track crossing section
 USA/Mexico - First U.S. to Mexico rail connection in 106 years
The 31 March saw the completion of the first international rail bridge to be constructed between the
United States and Mexico in 106 years. There were six railroad bridges at the Texas-Mexico border- now
there are seven. Although a series of complex twists and turns stalled and delayed the construction of the
West Rail International Bridge between Brownsville and Matamoros, the project never derailed. The rail
bridge is about 15 river miles upstream from the existing Brownsville & Matamoros International Bridge
and is located off U.S. Highway 281 near the River Bend Resort area, and about two miles from Alton
In the U.S.A. the project involved the installation of approximately seven miles of relocated track and
subgrade, about 810 feet of the total 2,750 feet of new freight rail spanning the Rio Grande and flood
plains and a new two-story Department of Homeland Security facility for the purpose of inspecting rail
cars. Except for relocating the switchyard in Mexico, the work involved in Mexico was comparable. The
project begins at the Union Pacific Railroad’s junction to the Port of Brownsville and south of Olmito,
continues west and south for almost 6 miles crossing over U.S. Highway 281, the International Boundary
and Water Commission levee, and across the Rio Grande, connecting with the Kansas City Southern Mexico
rail system. A ceremony is planned to inaugurate the facility sometime in April.
BLNI – North East Asia Extra - April 2015
The International Editor’s outstanding file still contains material, sometimes months old,
that is worthy of distribution, but for which there is insufficient space in the paper version
of the international supplement. This time it is the often fascinating world of railways in
China, Japan and South Korea.
[A18] China - West Island Line opens to passengers
Hong Kong’s West Island Line extension was opened for revenue service on 28 December.
Serving the Western District on Hong Kong Island, the 3 km extension of the existing Island Line runs from
Sheung Wan to Kennedy Town, with intermediate stations at Sai Ying Pun and Hong Kong University. As
well as escalator and stair exits to street level, the station at Hong Kong University is connected to the
university campus on the Island’s Mid-Levels by express lifts. This station is intended to serve as an
interchange with the South Island Line (West) when that route is completed after 2020.
[A19] China - Chinese cities open 10 more metro lines
No fewer than eight new metro lines or extensions were opened for revenue service in four cities on 28
December, followed by two more on 30 December, as the various administrations continue to expand
their urban rail networks in a bid to alleviate growing traffic congestion.
Four lines began trial operation in Beijing, expanding the capital’s metro network by adding 62 route-km or
13% to a total of 527 km. The new Line 7 runs eastwards from Beijing West Station across the south of the
city to Jiaohuachang in the southeast, serving 17 intermediate stations. Interchange is provided to Line 4 at
Caishikou, Line 5 at Ciqikou and Line 10 at Shuangjing. Phase 2 of Line 6 extends the route from Caofang to
Lucheng in the eastern suburb of Tongzhou, adding seven stations of which two have yet to open.
The eastern portion of line 14 connects Line 6 Jintailu with Shan’gezhuang via Wangjing, where an
interchange is provided to Line 15. That line has been extended west Guanzhang to Qinghuadonglu Xikou,
serving five intermediate stations including interchanges to Line 5 at Datunlu Dong and Line 8 at Aolinpike
Operated by Hong Kong MTR Corp under a PPP concession, Line 14 is the first route in the capital to be
equipped with wide-bodied trains to increase capacity. For the same reason, Line 6 is being operated by
eight-car trains rather than six-car sets.
According to Xu Chengyong, Head of Metro Construction at the Beijing Urban Construction Design &
Development Group, the new lines have been designed to be ‘more passenger-friendly’, with larger
passageways to improve throughput at key interchanges as well as more spacious rolling stock.
The Beijing metro network is currently carrying around 10 million passengers a day, and will have 19 lines
in operation by the end of 2015. The network is expected to reach 1 000 route-km by 2020.
Shanghai Metro opened two extensions on 28 December. Line 13 has been extended from its former
terminus at Jinshajianglu to an interchange with Line 7 at Changshoulu, serving two intermediate stations,
with a third due to open in 2020. Line 16 was extended from Luoshanlu to Longyang.
28 December also saw the opening of a 16.8 km extension of Wuhan metro Line 4 from Wuchang station
to Huangjinkou, tunneling under the Yangtze River between Fuxinglu and Lanjianglu. Under construction
since November 2012, this extension runs mostly in tunnel apart from a 3.2 km elevated section. Opening
of the extension brings the total length of Line 4 to 33.2 km; it is operated by a fleet of Type B trainsets
supplied by CSR Zhuzhou and CNR Chanchun.
Wuxi Metro opened its 26·6 km Line 2 on 28 December, using a fleet of Type B trainsets supplied by CSR
Puzhen. Linking Meiyuan Kaiyuansi in the west and Anzhen in the east, the cross-city line intersects with
Line 1 at Sanyang Square; it runs mostly in tunnel apart from 6.6 km of elevated alignment.
On 30 December Chongqing opened an 11·7 km extension of monorail Line 2 from the former terminus at
.Xinshancun to Yudong, where interchange is provided with monorail Line 3. The same day also saw the
opening of metro Line 6 between Wulidian and Chayuan. Running partly underground and partly elevated,
this route connects the city centre with the southeastern suburbs, crossing the Jialing River on a bridge,
and tunnelling under the Yangtze.
[A20] China - Guangzhou tram line opens
The fifth modern tram line in China opened on 31 December in Guangzhou. The 7.7 km east-west Haizhu
Line with 11 stops is first phase of a planned circular route in Haizhu district.
The standard gauge line runs along the south bank of the Pearl River, connecting Canton Tower with
Wanshengwei. Interchange is provided at Canton Tower with metro Line 3 and the Zhujiang New Town
Automated People Mover, and with lines 4 and 8 at Wanshengwei.
CSR Zhuzhou has supplied seven 100% low-floor trams. The four-section trams are powered only by
supercapacitors and include drive components supplied by Siemens under a technology licensing and co-
operation agreement. Maximum operational speed is 70 km/h.
[A21] China - Hangzhou opens third metro line
The first section of Hangzhou metro Line 4 opened on 2 February. This is the third metro line in Hangzhou;
Line 1 opened in November 2012 and Line 2 exactly two years later.
The 9.6 km northeast section runs along the left bank of the River Qiantang between Pengbu and Jinjiang.
The 10 stations include three interchanges with Line 1 and one interchange with Line 2.
The depot is shared with Line 1 and is located at Qibao, beyond Line 4’s northern terminus. The line is
electrified at 1.5 kV DC and is operated with a fleet of Type B trainsets with a maximum speed of 80 km/h.
Services run between 06:30 and 22:30.
The southwest section is scheduled to open in 2017. It will add 11.2 km and eight stations, taking the route
[A22] China - Nanjing opens metro line 3
The 44.1 km metro line 3 opened 1 April, this being the cities fourth conventional metro and sixth overall.
There are 30 stations, all but one underground. Linchang is the only above ground station of the 30 station
total, and the line runs southeast from here under the River Yangtze before continuing south through
Nanjing and Nanjing South railway stations to Mozhoudonglu. Interchange is provided with metro lines 1,
2, S8 and the future Line 4, which is due to open later this year.
[A23] China/Mongolia - China to invest in cross-border rail link from Mongolia
Reuters has reported that Shenhua Group, China's top coal producer, will form a joint venture with
partners in Mongolia to build a cross-border rail link that will help ship coal to China. The deal marks a
change in attitude in Mongolia, which has long sought to keep its powerful neighbour at arm's length amid
fears about China's political and economic hegemony in the region. China buys more than 90 percent of
Mongolia's exports and has sought big stakes in the country's strategic assets. The Chinese firm will own
49% of the project, which will involve the construction of a 13-kilometre rail link from the Chinese border
to a terminal where coal is delivered by road. Mongolia plans to spend USD 5.2 billion on the expansion
and upgrade of its railway network and last year hired Samsung C&T to lead construction of a 217-
kilometre route south from the Ukhaa Khudag mine in the South Gobi region towards China. A route to
China would reduce the cost of shipping coal to customers in China now largely done by road and would
also improve Mongolia's access to China's ports. An additional 27 kilometres of rail connecting the
Shenhua line and Samsung C&T's line will be needed to complete the route. In the meantime, the
temporary drop-off point will be established for lorries to deliver coal to the Shenhua joint venture rail to
be carried into China. The Shenhua JV project and the connecting 27 kilometres of line will be built using
China's rail gauge ( standard gauge of 1435mm), while the rest of the line uses Russian gauge (1524mm). A
gauge changer will be built where the Samsung-led rail line ends.
[A24] Japan - Japanese Shinkansen network expands
The new 228km Hokuriku Shinkansen line connecting Nagono with the major cities of Toyama and
Kanazawa on the west coast of the main Japanese island of Honshu opened on 14 March. The new
260km/h line with six stations has direct trains operated by brand new E7 series Shinkansen trains
between Tokyo and Kanazawa taking 2 hours 28 minutes, compared to the previous journey time of 4
hours 20 minutes on the old 1067mm gauge line. The Services are operated jointly by two operators - JR
East and JR West as Toyama and Kanazawa are in the part of Japan served by JR West although the line
from Tokyo as far as the west coast at Jōetsu is owned and operated by JR East whose Tokyo station
platforms will be used by Hokuriku Shinkansen trains.
Services from Tokyo use the existing Jōetsu Shinkansen line as far as Takasaki where the new Hokuriku
Shinkansen line heads north. The Hokuriku line has been built in stages: the first section to Nagona opened
in 1997 from where the second stage to Kanazawa opened on 14 March 2015. A further extension south to
Tsuruga is under construction but is unlikely to open until the mid 2020s. A final extension, south from
Tsuruga, to the Kyoto area (already served by the Tokaido Shinkansen (Tokyo - Osaka)) is planned long
term. The new line took 23 years to build and crosses mountains with significant tunnels - the longest of
which is 22.251 km long.
[A25] Japan – Top ten local train rides
A travel agency recently announced its top 10 list for the best ( as in scenic and atmospheric ) local trains
around the country. Here they are:
1st Gonō Line (Aomori to Akita), 2nd Ōigawa Railway (Shizuoka), 3rd Senmō Main Line (Hokkaido), 4th
Aizu Railway (Fukushima), 5th Tadami Line (Fukushima- Niigata), 6th Sanriku Railway (Iwate), 7th Sagano
Scenic Railway (Kyoto), 8th Himi Line (Toyama), 9th South Aso Railway (Kumamoto) and 10th Nagaragawa
Railway (Gifu). For a few comments and some really nice pictures of these lines go to:
[A26] Japan – Track diagrams
It seems it is not only Europeans who love to look at track diagrams. The Japanese do so as well and some
examples are found at this website http://www.haisenryakuzu.net, (in Japanese unfortunately). It remains
to be seen whether the information is used to grice loops, bay platforms and crossovers, but your editor’s
money is firmly on an affirmative.
[A27] Japan - So what type of train enthusiast are you?
You may already be aware that there is a subculture of train fanatics in Japan known as densha otaku, or
train enthusiast. But did you know that there are loads of sub-subcultures within the densha otakus? Quite
possibly you may recognise yourself in some of the following:
1. Tori-tetsu: enjoys taking pictures of trains: Whether happily clicking away in the carriage or perched on
precarious hills to get the perfect background, you’ll find these otaku with giant cameras in hand anywhere
2. Onkyou-tetsu: focuses on sounds made by trains and recording them: These audiophiles often turn up
on Japanese TV, simultaneously amazing audiences and inducing pity with their ability to listen to a short
recording and immediately identify the type of train and the line it’s on. Also sure to know every station’s
3. Nori-tetsu: enjoys riding trains: This otaku is old school. His highest goal is kanjou, riding the complete
length of all rail lines in Japan. This may sound very familiar to some members…..
4. Ori-tetsu: likes to get off the train and explore around the station: Might be confused with a tourist?
5. Jushin-tetsu: intercepts train operators’ radio signals: This seems slightly less exciting than those that
monitor police channels or ham radio enthusiasts.
6. Sharyou-tetsu: an expert on train cars, including design and engineering specs: This otaku isn’t just
interested in the latest public transportation, but in the history and development of trains.
7. Mokei-tetsu: a model train collector: This also includes diorama-tetsu, who build vast dioramas for their
model trains to run on.
8. Shuushuu-tetsu: a collector of train-related goods: Some of these otaku collect tickets or parts from
decommissioned trains, others stick to the more common promotional items.
9. Oshi-tetsu: a stamp collector: This otaku isn’t interested in postal stamps, but rather the rubber stamps
provided at some stations. Mostly this is a tourism promotion effort aimed at children.
10. Suji-tetsu or jikokuhyou-tetsu: focuses on train timetables and maps: These guys actually enjoy reading
the phone-book-sized paper train schedules put out by the train companies.
11. Eki-tetsu: station experts: These are your go-to guys if you want to find out about a station’s
construction or the reason for its name.
12. Haisen-tetsu: experts on abandoned rail lines: This branch has a lot in common with the recent trend in
haikyo, or exploration of ruins and abandoned buildings, but they just focus on railways
13. Haisen-tetsu: a signalling expert:
14. Senrou-tetsu: focuses on the rails themselves: Trains-shmains, these otaku want to know more about
the metal bits they run on. They are quite into photographing rails and sleepers apparently.
15. Setsubi-tetsu: rail facilities fans: If you love train tunnels and bridges, this is the club for you.
16. Unten-tetsu: The deepest desire of their hearts is to drive an actual train, but until then, simulators will
have to do.
17. Houan-tetsu: railway safety fans: A lot goes into the safe operation of trains, and these otaku want to
know about it all.
18. Kaki-tetsu: train artists: Paint pictures of trains.
19. Kakuu-tetsu: imaginary train builders: These otaku like to create their own train systems from scratch,
at least in their minds. Strangely, there’s always a station right by their house.
20. Ekiben-tetsu: lunch box afficianados: Ekiben are the lunch box sets only available for purchase at
particular stations, and these otaku are determined to eat them all.
21. Chibi-tetsu: This is a special term for the underage otakus-in-training.
22. Mama-tetsu: chibi-tetsu’s mom: Whether she is going along to please her kid or has an interest in
trains herself, this lady is neck deep in the otaku world.
23. Kaisha-tetsu: an expert on train companies: They know the business end of things. Buying stock in
companies they like is said to be a hobby.
24. Kaigai-tetsu: Japanese train enthusiast interested in trains in other countries.
25. Houki-tetsu: legal beagles: These otaku know the legal ins and outs when it comes to trains.
26. Soushiki-tetsu: literally “funeral otaku”, fans of final runs: These fellows like to be on the last train
before a line is closed or a model decommissioned.
27. Gunji-tetsu: military experts: Did you know there is such a thing as armoured train cars and train-
mounted weapons? These guys do.
28. Tetsugaku-tetsu: train philosophers: These otaku like to look at older trains and philosophize about
what their design has to say about society of that era.
29. Reikishi-tetsu: history buffs: They study the history of rail travel.
30. Tetsukei-tetsu: rail police fanboys: Maybe they like the uniforms?
31. SL-tetsu: steam locomotive experts: These otaku only have eyes for the old-school steam engine trains.
32. Game-tetsu: train gamers: Apparently there are train-related games in Japan, like “Let’s go by train!”
and “Let’s take the A line“.
33. Tori-tetsu: thieves : Not to be confused with #8, this tori-tetsu uses as different kanji that means steal.
They like to lift the number plates off of trains or steal branded goods from sleeper trains.
34. Kuzu-tetsu: jerks: Apparently, they enjoy riding trains just to be rude and make a nuisance of
[A28] Japan - New cross city link opens in Tokyo
Revenue services have started running on East Japan Railway’s Ueno – Tokyo Line, following an
inauguration ceremony on 14 March. Taking seven years to build at a cost of ¥40bn, the 3.8 km cross-city
link provides an extra pair of tracks for suburban services on the busy north-south corridor connecting the
capital’s two principal rail hubs. Trains from the north which previously terminated at Ueno have been
linked up with services from Tokyo station to the south. Eliminating the need to change trains has cut
typical journey times for passengers from the northern suburbs to the central business district by around
11 minutes. The elevated double-track suburban line uses the alignment of the former Tohoku Main Line
tracks, which were lifted in the 1980s to make way for the extension of the Tohoku Shinkansen from Ueno
to Tokyo. Over the 1·3 km between Akihabara and Tokyo stations, the new 1067 mm gauge tracks are
carried over the 1 435 mm gauge Shinkansen on a 19-span double-deck viaduct; this was built in 3½ h
overnight possessions to avoid any disruption to regular services. JR East is initially operating an all-day
service of 15 trains/h each way over the Ueno-Tokyo Line, reducing the peak-hour crowding on trains using
the parallel Yamanote Loop and Keihin-Tohoku Line from 213% to around 180%. Five trains per hour from
the Utsonomiya Line and five from the Takasaki Line now run through over the Tokaido Main Line to
Yokohama, while five limited express trains from the Joban Line have been extended from Ueno to a new
turnback facility at Shinagawa. From 2016, JR East expects to increase the cross-city service to 20 trains/h;
in the longer term some of these trains may be extended over a proposed branch to Haneda Airport.
[A29] Japan – On line map of Japan Rail pass
http://www.jrpass.com/map. Site includes all details of Japan Rail passes.
[A30] South Korea - Honam high speed line opens
The Honam High Speed Railway serving the southwest of the country was formally opened at a ceremony
at Gwangju Songjeong station on 1 April. Phase I of the country’s second high speed line has been under
construction since 2009. It diverges at Osong from the Gyeongbu high speed line which links Seoul and
Busan and runs for 182.3 km to Gwangju-Songjeong, serving intermediate stations at Gongju, Iksan and
Jeongeup. Unlike the current Gwangju station, which lies on a branch off the main line, Songjeong station
is located southwest of the city ready for extension of the high speed line to Mokpo. However,
infrastructure manager KRNA has not indicated any timescale for construction of this final 49 km, which
means that for now the high speed trains will continue to serve Mokpo over the existing line.
Korail started revenue KTX services over the new line on 2 April, cutting the fastest journey times
between Seoul and Gwangju from 2 hours 40 minutes to just 90 minutes.
From 2016 the Honam high speed line is also due to be served by rival operator SR, which has been
granted the concession to run the new high speed line from Suseo in the southeast of the Seoul
conurbation to join the Gyeongbu high speed line at Hyangnam, north of Cheonan-Asan.